Nicholas Rodney Drake was born in Rangoon, Burma on June 19, 1948. He moved to England in 1951 and the family settled in the county of Warwickshire in the quaint hamlet of Tanworth-in-Arden.
Nick's family was a musical one and home provided the perfect atmosphere for him to indulge in the world of music. Nick had an early love for classical music, and learned to play the piano quickly and easily. At school, he was a member of the school orchestra, and dabbled in clarinet and saxophone.
Nick loved to listen to folk and rock and was also a big Beatles fan. He asked his parents for a guitar, and, sensing it might just be a phase before returning to piano, they honoured his request. But eventually Drake had invested in a proper six-string acoustic and was enthusiastically teaching himself the basics and perfecting his own intricate finger-picking style. He allegedly mastered his chosen instrument in a matter of months and immersed himself into composing.
Nick began performing around Cambridge, and at the age of 20, he caught the ear of Fairport Convetion's Ashley Hutchings. Hutchings brought him to producer Joe Boyd and upon listening to Nick's tapes, Boyd offered him a recording contract and studio time.
Nick recorded just three full-length albums during his career ‘Five Leaves Left’ in 1969, ‘Bryter Layter’ in 1970, and finally ‘Pink Moon’ in 1972. After ‘Pink Moon’, Nick became deeply depressed and retreated to the sanctuary of Far Leys.
He managed to find his way into the studio once more in 1974 to record four more songs. They would find their way onto the ‘Fruit Tree’ compilation. These songs, weary and dark, tell the tale of a young man terribly lost and despondent.
In October of that year, Drake left for France to reunite with his friend and fellow folk singer, Francoise Hardy. She had earlier expressed interest in recording some of Nick's songs. Drake returned to England with some renewed buoyancy and direction.
On the night of November 24, 1974, Nick was up and about at Far Leys suffering from insomnia, but in good spirits. On this night his mother could hear some of his favourite classical music wafting from the record player and, for reasons she is still unsure of, she decided to turn over and go back to sleep.
It is said that Nick mistook his antidepressants for sleeping pills and took a few to help him sleep. What Nick and his parents were never told was that one of these pills over the legal dose was lethal. Nick found his way into bed and quietly passed away in his sleep.
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